Fritz, Ruud Step Up Turin Bids With Opening Basel Wins

  • Posted: Oct 25, 2023

Fritz, Ruud Step Up Turin Bids With Opening Basel Wins

Ruud beats Antwerp champ Bublik

Since reaching the US Open quarter-finals, Taylor Fritz went 2-2 on the Asian swing before heading to Europe for the Swiss Indoors Basel. On Wednesday, the American survived a stern opening test from Max Purcell to continue his chase for a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals.

Sitting ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, Fritz’s bid to leapfrog Holger Rune for the crucial eighth position received a timely boost with his gritty 7-6(6), 7-6(4) win at the ATP 500.

“As far as where I’m at in the Race, I think I’m in a good spot,” Fritz said post-match. “I have a pretty decent chance if I can come up with a big result one of these next two weeks [in Basel or Paris].”

The American trailed Purcell 1/5 in the opening tie-break and saved two set points before he snatched the set with a three-point surge. He twice surrendered a break lead in set two, including an unsuccessful attempt to serve out the match at 5-4, but recovered to close out the second tie-break on his third set point.

“I was lucky to win the first set. I played some really big points really well in important moments in the tie-break,” Fritz said. “I came up pretty clutch in the first set to take it. The second set I was serving well, I was returning better, and I just kind of got in my own way and made it pretty complicated. But I was lucky to refocus and play a good tie-break.”

Fritz, who turns 27 on Saturday, improved to 22-2 in opening rounds this season with the result, including a perfect 14-0 mark on hard courts. He was out-aced 13 to 12 by Purcell, but the Aussie was made to pay for his six doubles faults, including several at crucial moments late in the second set.

Purcell put forth a brave effort in his bid to snap a six-match tour-level losing streak, but he remains winless since his run to the Winston-Salem quarter-finals in August. The Aussie was also seeking his second Top 10 win since August, when he beat Casper Ruud in Cincinnati.

Next up for Fritz is qualifier Alexander Shevchenko.

Casper Ruud also made a successful start in Basel with a 7-6(5), 6-2 win against Alexander Bublik, who lifted the Antwerp title on Sunday. Ruud is in 10th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and, like Fritz, is in search of a late charge to return to the Nitto ATP Finals. Fritz reached the semi-finals last year at the season finale, while Ruud enjoyed a run to the championship match.

Ruud’s win against Bublik improved him to 6-1 in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head. The Kazakhstani is the first opponent against whom he has recorded six victories (Ruud is 5-1 against Rune and 5-0 against Roberto Carballes Baena.).

In a dramatic opening set, both Ruud and Bublik fought off three break points in their final service game before the tie-break, which the Norwegian clinched on his third set point. Bublik responded by taking a 2-0 lead in set two — despite a brilliant tweener lob from his opponent to start the set — but Ruud raced through the finish by winning six straight games.

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